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The Real Estate Industry is One Big Meatball Sundae

I have a training budget and part of that budget includes money for books. Most of the books I buy are about marketing, and I am a major Seth Godin fan. I have several of his books, including his latest, Meatball Sundae. Meatball Sundae is about all the ways that marketing has changed, Godin says it has changed in 14 ways. Mass media is no longer the only channel for marketing, the internet give us infinite channels. According to Godin “business growth comes from…satisfying the people who can best leverage your idea,” the book focuses on how the internet has changed everything when it comes to marketing. The meatball sundae has to do with what is being marketed. I think that is where the book is most applicable to our industry.

The meatball represents the products that we sell. The same old products. In our industry we can call our services the meatball. The same services we have been marketing to consumers forever. The sundae is how we market our services. We take the meatball and put some new topping on it to make it look pretty and then go out and try to sell that same old meatball. Not very appealing, or desirable in the market place, and not what consumers are asking for.The internet has changed our industry. I don’t believe that people will be buying houses on the internet any time soon. My husband works for a car dealership that is all set up so that consumers can buy a car through the internet. They have had that service for their customers for many years. People use the web sites for research but still come into the store to look at the car and test drive it before buying. The internet will not eliminate our jobs but it is changing them, yet we continue with the same old business models and commission structures and even fight to keep them in place. We keep our meatball looking the same and put new toppings on it as we market it.

The internet, and the unlimited number of marketing channels gives our industry the opportunity to create new business models and provide new services to our clients. Often I see agents using web technology to market in the same old way. Where they used to send snail mail post cards with their faces on them they now “drip” email with their face on it. We are not only selling the same old meatball but we are taking advantage of new advertising channels and methods but at the same time using them the same way that we used the old mass media channels.

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I read the entire book on two airplanes. With my short attention span a book has to be pretty gripping to hold my attention that long. I enjoy Godin’s writing style and his books can be read very quickly but it is better to read them a chapter at a time and absorb the ideas before continuing to the next chapter.

My favorite Seth Godin book is ” Small is the New Big.: I read it just as my blog was starting to take off and I think it had an influence on my writing style and my ideas for posts. Last winter I read “The Dip”, and I did not like it at all. it is about knowing when to quit. While I agree that sometimes quitting is best I did not find any useful advice in the book about how to quit or when to quit.

Real estate practitioners and the industry it self can learn from reading books and taking training that is not just for the real estate industry. When I look at my job I see myself as a marketer. I spend more time and money marketing that I do on any single activity. Most of my training in the area comes from books and even classes that are written or provided through other industries. The ideas from the outside world enable us to think outside the box and even to look at ways to stop marketing that same old meat ball and start thinking about new products and opportunities.

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Written By

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.



  1. Sarah Cooper

    January 29, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I love Seth Godin and look for ideas anywhere. It’s amazing how many things I came up with while helping my little sister in law plan her wedding! I think just working on something else can free up your brain to connect old stuff in a new way.

  2. Bob Carney

    January 29, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Could you cliff notes this in 140 characters or less? Great feedback on this book…it’s another one need to add to the bookshelf wish list.

  3. Mariana

    January 29, 2008 at 8:57 am

    “My favorite Seth Godin book is ” Small is the New Big.: I read it just as my blog was starting to take off and I think it had an influence on my writing style and my ideas for posts.” (I love quoting you…)

    “Small is the New Big” was the book I read right before I started blogging, and, in fact a review of that book was the VERY FIRST blog post I ever wrote. Seth is one of my all-time-favorites.

    Will you please sit next to me on the 12th, Teresa?

  4. ines

    January 29, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    What can I say but “Seth is DA Man!” – I totally agree with you about training and looking outside the box for marketing ideas. I have found that Marketing has given me a creative out that I need in the real estate industry. It can be a lot of fun and there is always so much to learn.

  5. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Teresa, I just did a quick interview with Seth here:

    Also, he gave us 5 HUGE but short tips here:

    Are you hearing him at Family Reunion ?

  6. Jeff Brown

    January 29, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Teresa — I’d love to hear your thoughts on hiring a marketing expert. It’s what agents advocate to property owners, so I’m wondering about your views on your more or less do-it-yourself approach. Thanks

  7. Brad Coy

    January 30, 2008 at 3:54 am


    This is a good read on the topic using new media. Another, akin to this is “The New Rules of Marketing and PR by Davin Meerman Scott.

    Andy Kaufman and I found ourselves with a some folks at a Meetup networking function tonight were the Meatball Sundae Idea seemed to be the topic du jour. So much so in fact that by the end of the evening they raffled a autograph copy of the book at which both our numbers were called. Having both read it we passed and were given instead free “boot camp” style work out sessions. I think there is some strange injustice at work for being so ambitious in consuming this new media knowledge.

  8. Andy Kaufman

    February 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    …and since then, I’ve re-read my copy of Meatball Sundae and that free pass for the ‘boot camp’ session is currently unused, and staring me down.

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